Former Minnesota Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was once the cornerstone of a few championship teams.
Over this time, he turned himself into a good, all-around hitter.
He also holds a special place in the minds of New York Yankees fans, having been part of the team’s dynasty during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
chuck knoblauch with the stare down and late bat flip. ruthless pic.twitter.com/BIne9t7Bll
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) August 18, 2018
However, it was a very short peak.
Knoblauch’s fielding quickly began to deteriorate later in his career, as he struggled just making a throw to first.
Here is a look at his full career story, and the downfall of a former MLB All-Star.
A Twins Star
Knoblauch was drafted by the Twins in the first round of the 1989 MLB Draft out of Texas A&M University.
He quickly worked his way up through the Twins organization and made his debut just two years later in 1991.
In 151 games, he had one home run, 50 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .281 batting average.
These numbers were good enough to earn him the Rookie of the Year award.
That season, he was also a major part of the team’s World Series run.
In the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Knoblauch hit .350 with three RBI.
He followed this up by hitting .308 in the World Series.
In 1992, Knoblauch posted a .297 batting average and earned his first All-Star appearance because of it.
While he struggled in 1993, he took a major step forward during the strike-shortened 1994 season.
In 109 games, he tallied an impressive 45 doubles, hitting .312 and earning another spot on the All-Star team.
He took yet another step forward in 1995, slugging 11 home runs, stealing 46 bases and hitting .333.
However, his best season came in 1996.
In 153 games, Knoblauch led the league in triples with 14.
He also added 13 home runs, 45 stolen bases and a .341 batting average on top of that.
Here’s your New Years reminder that Chuck Knoblauch and Paul Molitor each hit .341 for the Twins in 1996. pic.twitter.com/K4ZHq5NE5i
— Ex Twins News (@ExTwinsNews) January 1, 2020
Though his 1997 season wasn’t quite up to the same level, he still earned an All-Star appearance as he hit .291.
At this time, he was also developing himself into one of the better defensive second baseman in the league.
He tallied a defensive WAR of 2.1 during the 1997 season, winning a Gold Glove.
During that offseason, he would be moved in a trade that marked the start of his decline.
Knoblauch Joins Yankees
Before the 1998 season, Knoblauch was traded to the Yankees.
Stumbled upon a Chuck Knoblauch highlight on YouTube and never see any on Twitter so here you go
Some of you forget he was the leadoff hitter for the Yankees dynasty of the late 90s 👀 pic.twitter.com/CJWkCufLGK
— Kyle Kondor (@Kyle_Kondor) March 23, 2020
Here, he joined a team that won a championship in 1996 but fell short of another in 1997.
For the 1998 season, he stepped right into the second base role and struggled to put up the same offensive numbers.
He hit just .265, a large drop-off from what became expected from him, but slugged 17 home runs.
However, his performance in the 1998 World Series was dominant, as he hit .375 with one home run in the Yankees four-game sweep.
His regular season stats bounced back offensively in 1999, as he hit a career-high of 18 home runs with a .292 batting average.
This was also the season that his defensive ability began to slip away.
During this season, he began to develop the “yips.”
Knoblauch And The Curious Case Of The Yips
The term “yips” is used to describe the sudden loss of skills for an athlete.
In baseball, it revolves around the loss of ability in throwing the baseball.
Knoblauch is one of the highest profiled MLB cases of developing the yips and having it devastate a career.
While he was once a great fielder, he simply couldn’t make the short throw to first base anymore.
Yips-ridden Chuck Knoblauch hits Keith Olbermann’s mother in the face with an errant throw pic.twitter.com/ypTx4PcSN0
— Baseball Nostalgia (@bbthrowbacks) March 19, 2020
The struggles peaked during the 2000 season.
He made three throwing errors in six innings against the Chicago White Sox, voluntarily taking himself out of the game after that.
While he returned to the position for a little bit after this, he was eventually moved to the outfield.
However, by this point, his offensive production dropped enough so that Knoblauch was quickly on his way out of the league.
He signed a contract with the Kansas City Royals in 2002 and struggled, hitting a measly .210 in 80 games.
At just 33-years-old, Knoblauch retired from MLB baseball.
Since the end of his career, Knoblauch was included in the Mitchell Report that named MLB players who took performance enhancing drugs.
Notable players in 2007's Mitchell Report PED probe:
Lenny Dykstra pic.twitter.com/oMTNh4MqqD
— A Haunted Game (@AHauntedGame) December 13, 2017
He was also arrested twice for allegedly assaulting a family member.
— Mike Oz (@mikeoz) July 24, 2014
According to a report, ABC 13 Eyewitness News provided further details on what occurred:
“According to a police report, Knoblauch assaulted his wife, leaving a large bruise on her arm, a larger scratch on the left side of her face and a knot on her forehead.
Knoblauch’s wife, Cheri, told police her husband was upset she slept next to her child in another bedroom rather than next to him. He allegedly grabbed her and smashed her head against a wall before throwing a humidifier at her.
Cheri ran to her sister-in-law, who was at home with them, for help but that allegedly didn’t stop Knoblauch. Instead, he allegedly hit her in the arm and chest and continued screaming at her.
Knoblauch’s sister took Cheri back to her home, where they called police.”
According to ESPN news services, the couple divorced in 2012.
Knoblauch also revealed that he has bitter feelings toward the city of Minnesota after he played for the Yankees.
When he returned to Minnesota to play against them as a member of the Yankeeds, fans were know to throw objects at him on the field.
Knoblauch expressed his feelings about it, per the Star Tribune’s Amelia Rayno:
“It hurt. I mean, I’m human. I can’t even give you any details. It was like an out-of-body experience … that’s the part of my life that’s like, ‘Really?’ It really meant that much? You’re trying to hurt me, knowingly throwing a quarter or a marble or something at me? It’s twisted. It made me bitter about Minnesota, definitely.”
For Knoblauch, it was a rapid drop-off for a player that was once a consistent All-Star.
The yips pushed him and it seems that he has been stumbling ever since.